sons (vengeance on recalcitrant Sontherners).rnBut in order to assess that debt,rnAmericans wonld have to reassess thernmyth that makes a ruthless imperialist-rnDarwinian war for national consolidationrnin the last century into a holy crusade.rnAnd that would be too painful.rn— Clyde WilsonrnColumbia, SCrnDr. Jenkins Responds:rnSo much of what Clyde Wilson says onrnthe subject of racial reparations is so selfevidentlyrncorrect that I fear I can offerrnouK’ a pallid “polemic” of my own in return.rnMost of my own comments are ofrnthe sort that one might hear from a congregationrnencouraging a singularly effectivernpreacher (“Tell it!” “Yes!”).rnHis remarks are all the more criticalrnsince the reparations campaign continuesrnto grow. Last November, Harper’s offeredrna front-page symposium on therntheme of “Making the Case for RacialrnReparations.” And if you want to see firsthandrnthe sogginess of the argumentsrnmade in such endeavors, look no furtherrnthan Elazar Barkan’s recent bookrnThe Guilt of Nations: Restitution andrnNegotiating Historical Injustices (W.W.rnNorton). Barkan resolves the delicate issuernof determining the factual basis ofrnclaims of historical victimization by thernsimple device of assuming that every singlernostensible victim is truthful and accurate,rnif not omniscient.rnDr. Wilson’s important point aboutrnthe universality of serfdom or actual slaver}’rncan also be illustrated by a simplernmathematical exercise. How many ancestorsrndid you have one generation ago?rnWhy, two, of course, namely your parents.rnTwo generations back means fourrnancestors, three generations implies eightrnancestors, and so on. Ten generationsrnago, you notionally had a thousand ancestorsrnwalking the earth at one time,rnwhile 30 generations back, you had nornless than a billion. Tracing your familyrnback the 60 generations to Roman times,rnyou should in theory have been descendedrnfrom some two-to-the-60th-power humanrnbeings, a number larger than the actualrnpopulation of the planet. Wliat thisrnall means is that any given person of Europeanrndescent can in theory be relatedrnto ever)’one who lived on that continentrnin ancient or medieval times, includingrnthe very substantial number of slaves andrnserfs who constituted so large a proportionrnof the European population uprnthrough early modern times. Recall that,rnfor most of Eastern Europe, serfdom wasrnonly introduced in the late 16th century,rnwhen it was dying out in the West, andrnthat, in various times and places, serfdomrnhad the worst characteristics that wernassociate with African slavery in thernNew World. Even in the 17th century,rnWestern Europeans faced the ever-presentrnthreat of kidnapping, enslavement,rnand forced conversion by Muslimrncoastal raiders. One way or another, wernare all descended from people who werernbought and sold, who were whipped andrnraped by their owners, who saw their childrenrnstolen and sold by their masters. Ifrnwe believe in reparations for past misdeeds,rnat what point in time does the debtrncease? Does the horizon of blood-guiltrnlie at 200 years, or five? Why?rnWliere I disagree with Dr. Wilson is inrnhis remarks about the end of African-rnAmerican slavery, about “the chaos, suffering,rnand reactive oppression created byrntheir unplanned and violent emancipationrnin the wrong way . . . and for thernwrong reasons.” That emancipation andrnReconstruction were carried out disastrously,rnno reasonable observer couldrndoubt: Without such blunders and injustices,rnhow could the very diverse and contentiousrnwhite South of the 1860’s havernbeen transformed into the solid politicalrnbloc that prevailed throughout the firstrnhalf of the 20th century? My only questionrnis, what were the alternatives? Thernfact that slaver)’ was so common in historicalrnterms does not justif)’ its existence,rnand 1 have no sympathy for any claimsrnthat Southern slavery was to the slightestrndegree redeemed by a sense of paternalism,rnnor is Dr. Wilson seeking to offer anyrnsuch excuses, hi the circimistances ofrn1865,1 fail to see that airy federal regimerncould have acted otherwise than endingrnthe institution with all deliberate speed, asrnsoon as that option fell within its power.rnOn Quebec SeparatismrnI appreciate the extraordinarily well-informedrncommentary by Sean Scallon onrnthe current political scene in Canadarn(“CRAP Happens,” Correspondence, Octoberrn2000). As I learned 20 years agornwhen I visited Quebec and met myrnErench-Canadian wife, Anglo-Canadiansrnare fond of pulling the wool over therneyes of Americans on the actual situationrnin Quebec.rnThe Meech Lake Accord, if acknowledgedrnas passed, would have consignedrnseparatism in Quebec to the same categoryrnof sentimental memory as the Jacobiternmovement in Scotland after thernForty-Five. The most controversial provisionrnwould have been a new clause in thernCanadian constitution, proclaimingrnQuebec to be a distinct society. Thisrnclause would have legally affected the judicialrninterpretation of the ConstitutionrnActs of 1867-1982, in effect giving Quebecrnspecial status in Canada.rnThe need for special protections forrnQuebec is obvious to anybody who understandsrnthe weaknesses of governmentrnby absolute majority and the need to protectrnthe rights of the minority in anyrncountry and in any age by the mechanismsrnof fundamental law. The primernminister of the dominion, the premiers ofrnall ten provinces, the governor general,rnand all enlightened Canadian statesmenrnin power in 1987 saw the urgent need forrnthis provision.rnThe distinct-societ)’ clause and all otherrnimportant provisions of the MeechrnLake Accord were subject to Sections 38-rn39 of the Constitution Act of 1982, whichrnmeans that they could have been passedrnwithin three years of proposal of the dominionrnparliament by the assent of sevenrnprovincial legislatures representing atrnleast half of the population of Canada.rnThis majority was easily obtained. However,rnthe measure was deemed defeated,rnfirst, by misunderstanding Section 41rnand completely ignoring Section 42 ofrnthe Constitution Act of 1982, not to mentionrncritical rules of constitutional interpretation;rnand second, because of the intriguesrnof Pierre Elliot Trudeau, hisrnpolitical cronies, and his mistress, whornpidled the strings from behind thernscenes; and, third, the posturing of a fractiousrndeputy in the provincial legislaturernin Manitoba, a marionette of Trudeaurnwho used political correctness and thernCree Indians as his false pretexts.rnMr. Scallon did not mention the judgmentrnof the Supreme Court of Canadarnin 1998, in effect an advisor)’ opinion requestedrnby the government of Canada.rnThis judgment, which surprised the federalrngovernment in Ottawa, says that,rnwhile there is no formal right of secession,rnthe right nevertheless exists as arnpractical matter and can be exercised uponrnreferendum of the people on a clearrnvote in favor of a clear proposition for in-rnJANUARY 2001/5rnrnrn